Very few people need or can afford a vehicle like the 2021 BMW X4 M Competition, a luxurious, coupe-style compact SUV that packs 503 horsepower and has all the dynamic attributes to keep pace with a number of high-caliber sports cars on a track.
There’s nothing rational—or so it seems—about this machine, which is the expression of German automakers’ sporty obsession and desire not to let any competitor stand alone at the top of a segment. But you know what? We’re sure glad it exists!
Just Find a Track
Our first experience with the BMW X4 M Competition occurred in June 2019 on the beautiful roads of the states of New York and New Jersey, as well as on the fabulous private track of the Monticello Motor Club—a paradise for driving enthusiasts… and a stark contrast with the slippery, pothole-filled roads of Quebec where we put it to the test in early January.
As confirmed by the M display on the centre screen, we couldn’t fully exploit the crushing power of the twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine (which delivers 30 more horsepower than the base X4 M, by the way). But when the conditions were right, we still had an absolute blast. It didn’t feel like we were driving an SUV at all, more like a genuine sporty car.
The X4 M Competition’s thrust is remarkable, pinning you to the driver’s seat like few others can. With 442 pound-feet of torque available from 2,650 rpm, a properly programmed eight-speed automatic transmission and Launch Control, acceleration from 0-100 km/h is officially achieved in 4.1 seconds.
Rock-solid and Grippy as Hell
Further broadening the smile on our face, the ultra-rigid chassis (with M carbon struts under the hood) and adaptive M sport suspension do a fantastic job of keeping body movements in check during lateral transitions. There is so much grip in corners it’s crazy, while the brakes certainly don’t lack power with their four-piston front callipers biting 15.6-inch discs. It was a treat to attack twisty roads knowing how flat and surefooted the vehicle would remain. And thank you BMW for those wonderful sport seats with adjustable side bolsters.
What about the sound? Delightfully throaty at idle, the M sport exhaust system lets out a rich and intoxicating snarl up to redline at 7,200 rpm. The pops from downshifting are also music to the ears. If you want, you can always use the paddle shifters on the steering wheel to command the symphony.
Make it Your Own Personal Monster
The awesome thing with the BMW X4 M Competition is the ability to adjust the various settings as you please. Right next to the gear shifter are buttons to individually tweak the suspension, steering and of course the engine response (Efficient, Sport, Sport Plus). Closer to you is another button for the M sport exhaust. The cherry on top—literally—are the two arrows atop the shift knob allowing you to the select the Drivelogic program (1, 2, 3) that best suits your driving style—from relaxed and efficient to seriously hardcore.
Via the centre screen, you can save your preferences into two distinct profiles: M1 and M2. After that, you just have to hit the corresponding red toggle on the steering wheel to transform the personality of the X4 M Competition in a flash. Let’s not forget the all-wheel drive system which also has a Sport mode sending more torque to the rear wheels and accentuating oversteer in corners (stability control must be turned off).
Sure, the BMW X4 is more spacious overall, but the compromises you have to make are the same ones required by a sports coupe. The heavily raked roofline barely leaves enough headroom for rear-seat occupants and results in an extremely small rear window for the driver, which creates big problems in terms of visibility. To make matters worse, the side mirrors are relatively small.
The trunk in the back has a cargo capacity of just 524 litres, which is marginally larger than that of a midsize sedan like the Honda Accord or a small crossover like the Mazda CX-3. The BMW X3, a more traditional compact SUV, offers about 50 percent more cargo space.
At least the cabin is attractive and colourful. Consider the panoramic sunroof, adjustable ambient lighting and striking Sakhir Orange leather upholstery in our tester. The combination of the digital instrument cluster and centre touchscreen (both 12.3 inches in size) with the head-up display is modern and user-friendly at the same time.
What Are Some Alternatives?
The 2021 BMW X4 M Competition is an ultra-high-performance SUV and a niche product. It starts at $95,600 plus freight and delivery charges, though our tester was worth $108,095 with the various options that were added. The Ultimate Package alone costs $10,000, and there are plenty more ways to bump the price.
Obviously, this is the kind of vehicle you buy with your heart and a large bank account. That being said, you’d be wise to look at some of the alternatives, starting with the BMW X3 M Competition ($93,500), which is a lot more practical. Others include the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S Coupe ($96,900), Porsche Macan Turbo ($96,500), Jaguar F-PACE SVR ($96,250) and Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio ($98,995). You could also consider the Tesla Model Y Performance ($82,600) if lightning-quick acceleration and efficiency are more important to you than sound effects and build quality.